The 2007 USA Rice Leadership Development Class visited the LSU AgCenter's Rice Research Station recently on its tour of the Louisiana and Texas rice industry. One of the class members, Jessica Lundberg of Chico, Calif., said the research station was a highlight of the weeklong session.

“I certainly appreciate the work that goes on here,” said Lundberg, manager of the plant nursery for the 70-year-old Lundberg Family Farms in California's Sacramento Valley. “This is the origin of our industry.”

The class heard an overview of the station's research projects from LSU AgCenter regional director Steve Linscombe, a rice breeder whose current duties in southwestern Louisiana also include serving as the Rice Research Station's director.

“I continue to be impressed with the caliber of people in the leadership class,” Linscombe said. “This tells me the rice industry will be well served in the future.”

Other participants in this year's class are Eric Unkel of Kinder, La.; John Fred Denison of Iowa, La., Trent Dabbs of Stuttgart, Ark., Eric Leonard of Corning, Ark., Shelley Smith of Boyle, Miss., and Jennifer Wells of Memphis, Tenn.

The leadership program gives future agricultural leaders the chance to learn about all aspects of the rice industry and to develop their leadership skills.

A committee of agribusiness leaders evaluates the applications, reviews letters of recommendation and conducts personal interviews with the finalists. Candidates must be age 25-45 at the time of application and derive their primary livelihood from some aspect of the rice industry.